The Pros and Cons of School Voucher Programs

After the effects of Hurricane Katrina, the Orleans Parish School System has seen a great deal of reform. One such change was the implementation of the Student Scholarship for Educational Excellence Program. Under this program, parents are given the option to send their child to a private school instead of a failing public institution, and the state government pays the tuition. While this program was enacted with the hopes of giving children better educational opportunities, as well as to provide otherwise financially burdened families with more educational options, research is showing that this school voucher program isn’t necessarily showing the desired results. And while the programs do have many supporters, they are not without their share of opponents.

One of the most prominent points addressed by opponents of government voucher programs is that it violates the first amendment. Because many of the schools participating in these programs are considered religious schools, it is argued that voucher programs go directly against the mandate of separating church and state, thus deeming them unconstitutional. A second point commonly addressed by those on the “con” side of the school voucher debate is that these programs will divert funding from public schools. Many teachers and administrators in public institutions argue that if government money is being set aside to provide scholarships for students to attend private schools, then there will be less money to assist in updating technology, providing textbooks, school repairs, and other problems faced by so many public schools. Finally, many argue that the voucher program will decrease the quality and standards of education at private schools. Some believe that, in many cases, children that attend these schools are there because of academic achievement, special talents, or simply because a parent is very passionate regarding his or her child’s education. They believe that, in letting students that don’t meet the normal standards imposed upon non-voucher students, the quality of education could lessen.

Still, there are many that support school voucher programs for a number of reasons. Many people simply believe that parents, regardless of which financial bracket they fall into, should be able to send their children to schools they believe are suitable, which are in many cases private. Parents with a higher income are able to choose to send their kids to private schools, many of which are highly reputable. Many supporters of the programs feel that poorer families should be able to grant their children the same opportunities. Some supporters also feel that they encourage competition between public and private schools, thereby increasing efficiency in the public school system. Some also believe that they increase diversity in private schools. In New Orleans, the majority of families in lower income brackets are non-Caucasian. With the voucher program, children of other races and ethnicities would have a better chance of attending a private school. Finally, those who support school voucher programs typically do not find them to be unconstitutional. Because parents ultimately have the choice of whether or not to send their child to a religious school, supporters argue that these programs do not violate the constitution in any way.

Source by Andrew Stratton

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